Wading into A Waitlist

By now, you've probably seen the results of this past year's college admissions cycle. I've already cited some of the punishing acceptance rates. Stanford set the pace with just a hair over five percent. It's significantly easier to accept being denied at a school where well over 90% of applicants are denied than it is to be waitlisted there. As I always refer to it, being waitlisted is “the purgatory of college admissions." You're not in and you're not out. You're just … waiting.

Being waitlisted at your “dream" school can be exceptionally frustrating. There's the economic aspect. You have to enroll somewhere, so you must commit to one of the schools who judged you to be clearly worthy of attending. That leads to the possibility that if your waitlist campaign is successful, you will have to withdraw your enrollment from the “bridesmaid" school where you paid your commitment deposit and, naturally, sacrifice those dollars.

Speaking of bridesmaids, there's also the psychological aspect of being waitlisted at your dream school. If you are eventually denied, you may make the mistake of thinking about the school you do attend as being second best, a kind of consolation prize. Well, let me tell you that this is completely wrong and such a mindset will undermine your chances to have a positive, bonding experience at your school. Truth is, though, that nearly everyone who doesn't get into their first-choice college and enrolls in an “alternate" school finds that school to be a wonderful match. Things tend to work out for the best.

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